Review Summary: Effloresce combines post-rock, prog, and electronica by blending it through hard rock aesthetics.
For a while, I found Effloresce a cool album but impossible to listen to for a long period of time. The complex time signatures and longer song lengths boggled my mind; I found the album passing me by. I had no recollection of what happened. Over the past 9 months or so, I am not sure whether I underwent a musical evolution or simply matured in my taste, but I finally understand Effloresce. Maybe I just noticed the qualities of different tracks because my iPod mixed up the order of the songs and I heard some of the later songs first. Over time, Oceansize’s Effloresce has become one of my favorite albums of the time. Not a classic, but absolutely fantastic and original.
Oceansize’s name explains their sound well. Effloresce is a massive 75 minute album full of intricate melody, complex time signatures, and accessible rock aesthetics. A quintet with three able guitar players, two keyboardists, a bassist, a drummer, and a volatile vocalist who goes from whispers to screams, songs on the album range from instrumental progressive epics to complex time-signature frenzies to electronic experiments. Whether they use intricate keyboard and clean guitar melodies or pounding, distorted chords, Effloresce is excellent. The beginning of the album presents most of the band’s tendencies, a sort of sampler of the songs to come. I Am the Morning
brings keyboards and major keyed guitar melodies to the forefront, an entirely instrumental track. Oceansize uses the crescendo to a climax technique of typical post-rock, but their sound diverges from the typical post-rock fare. Instead of simple guitar melodies that expand into huge, EQ-busting chords, they simply add countermelodies and chords underneath the main melodic theme. I Am the Morning is so well-done that one might assume that Effloresce is an instrumental album.
enters and presents the other side of Oceansize-complex modern rock. Grooving in 7/4 time, the song explodes into even more intricate melodies and brings the first appearance of vocals on the album. Mike Vennart’s voice sounds like an angry Daniel Johns from Silverchair’s grunge days mixed with the calm of Dustin Kensrue. Although the song follows a typical format of quiet verse-heavy chorus-quiet verse, each verse and chorus presents something different in the music. The second verse shows the monotonous harmonies the band likes to use, used to their fullest extent on One Day All This Could Be Yours
. As Catalyst
progresses, the time signatures change constantly, but the music never becomes awkward. It moves with a steady groove that never falters, which makes Oceansize extremely accessible in songs like Catalyst
. On the outside, it simply sounds like a well-executed rock song, but underneath, Catalyst
provides plenty of new things to discover.
In the middle of the album, Effloresce becomes its most complex. After the calm, laid back Rinsed
, You Wish
begins a duo of the most involved songs on the album. Although dense and complicated, these two songs are subtle and difficult to decipher on first listen. This is the section of the album that grows on the listener. You Wish
grows excellently in dynamics, ending in a blend of heavy chords and squealing harmonics. Remember Where You Are
, on the other hand, stays quieter and subdued for most of the track. It also has a tribal feel to it, especially with the drummer using a tom ostinato to begin the song. It ends on a standard 4/4 vamp, which begins the album’s less complex ending. Each song from then on sits in one time signature, making better use of melody than the rest of the album. Amputee
is the most accessible song on the album, highlighting Vennart’s versatile voice. The last three tracks are all longer, epic tracks heavily rooted in post-rock. Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs
makes use of guitar effects and textural chords. The song sounds much like a less energetic Tristeza song. Long Forgotten
adds a string section to the mix and makes for the most beautiful song on the album.
Effloresce, meaning to burst forth like a flower, finds a band coming into their own and producing an album of superb standards. An impossibly well-done debut album, Oceansize set the bar high for themselves further in their career. From the eclectic first third of the album to the progressive, complex middle to the beautiful, subtle album ending, Oceansize presents a world of music drawing from post-rock, progressive, grunge, and even electronica. With open minds and virtuoso talent, their possibilities are unlimited.
Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs